By: Manny Otiko, IVN
When news broke that Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco was a member of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group, many people were shocked. However, Joy Silver, a Palm Springs resident, has decided not to take the news lying down.
Silver is co-chair of a Political Action Committee called the Riverside Alliance for Safety and Accountability. She is also part of the Bianco Must Go campaign, which seeks to replace Bianco as sheriff.
According to Silver, Bianco being a member of the Oath Keepers is only part of the problem with his leadership. Silver said that Bianco is a part of the “constitutional sheriffs’” movement and their view of law enforcement is that they get to pick and choose which laws they enforce.
“The idea is the constitutional sheriff is the highest form of law enforcement,” she said. “They are the ones who decide what laws to enforce.”
And we’ve already seen this in Bianco when he decided that he would not make his officers get the coronavirus vaccine. This violated a directive from Gov. Gavin Newsom which required all state workers to be vaccinated. Bianco has also refused to vaccinate Riverside County jail inmates, a move that has sparked lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU.)
“The jails policies of the RSD have been especially inhumane and deadly during the COVID-19 pandemic, with Sheriff Chad Bianco going so far as to mock requests to alleviate dangerous conditions in the crowded facilities operated by the department,” according to an ACLU press release. “Even though Riverside County’s jails had one of the largest outbreaks of COVID-19 of jails in the state, the RSD had no comprehensive plan to deal with the pandemic until it was forced to do so by a federal court.”
Bianco’s membership in the Oath Keepers is also troubling. The Oath Keepers are part of the anti-government militia movement. The movement is into conspiracy theories. One of those theories is that the government will eventually falsify a disease and use that as an excuse to seize guns. The Oath Keepers were created in 2009 around the time President Barack Obama began his term.
Those two incidents are related because the rise of groups, such as the Oath Keepers, was tied to fears about the first Black president. (Silver called this a “Blacklash.”) During his administration, Obama was constantly accused of planning to “take away people’s guns,” even though that never happened.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus was the perfect foil for groups like the Oath Keepers.
Several militia groups, including the Oath Keepers, were involved in the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6. According to NPR, more than 20 members of the Oath Keepers were arrested for the attack on the Capitol.
The Oath Keepers recruit heavily from police officers, former service members, and emergency service workers. An NPR story reported that 1 in 5 people charged for the attack on the Capitol had served in the armed forces.
“That makes them the most dangerous,” said Silver.
Silver added that Oath Keepers, and other militia groups, believe there will be an inevitable clash with the federal government.
“They believe in the inevitability of another civil war,” said Silver.
According to Silver, Bianco portrayed himself as a candidate for change when he was running for sheriff. But he has turned out to be very different.
However, although Bianco is a member of an anti-government militia group, removing him from office may take some time.
According to Silver, some groups are asking State Attorney General Rob Bonta to investigate Bianco’s activities. Other options for removing Bianco from office include a recall.
However, Silver believes the best option is to remove him by the ballot box. Bianco is up for reelection next year.
Inland Valley News coverage of local news in San Bernardino and Riverside Counties is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support minority-owned-and-operated community newspapers across California.